It seems that the porkulus is not just a wonderful spending bill that will lift thousands, er, make that millions, out of poverty and joblessness forever. No, it also has a provision that will make sure that there will be no Department of (In)Justice investigations of politically-connected people.
Yes, the porkulus will create an appropriately-named Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board (RAT) that Our Maximum Leader wanted in this abomination known as a bill. This will ensure that what little political independence left also will be gone.
The provision, which attracted virtually no attention in the debate over the 1,073-page stimulus bill, creates something called the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board — the RAT Board, as it’s known by the few insiders who are aware of it. The board would oversee the in-house watchdogs, known as inspectors general, whose job is to independently investigate allegations of wrongdoing at various federal agencies, without fear of interference by political appointees or the White House.
In the name of accountability and transparency, Congress has given the RAT Board the authority to ask “that an inspector general conduct or refrain from conducting an audit or investigation.” If the inspector general doesn’t want to follow the wishes of the RAT Board, he’ll have to write a report explaining his decision to the board, as well as to the head of his agency (from whom he is supposedly independent) and to Congress. In the end, a determined inspector general can probably get his way, but only after jumping through bureaucratic hoops that will inevitably make him hesitate to go forward.
I always enjoy watching politicians attempting to channel Dick Cheney (whom they criticized in political speeches but then realized he must have had some Really Good Ideas on how to stay out of the crowbar motel). Yes, the Most Transparent Administration In History is making sure that it always has its tracks covered.